"There weren't no pecans this year. I got nine quarts, and if you bought them right out, they were $8 a pound," she starts as she cuts pecans slowly, one at a time, with a weathered serrated knife gracefully between her beautifully wrinkled fingers.
"Bad year for growing?" I ask.
"They just didn't make. We had a lot of rain."
Growing up in my family, pecan pie was always a homespun fixture at any family gathering. The flakey, buttery crust cradling a sweet, sticky union of golden brown pecans and thick, saccharine filler is the perfect, albeit overboard, ending to many a meal.
My grandmother, Era James, has made the pies since the 50's. She learned the recipe from her mother.
"It was my momma's recipe. I watched her make them, then I started making them." With her bright eyes shining through her thick glasses, she looks up to proudly exclaim, "And everybody says mine's the best pie that they've every eaten!"
Her pie is really great. The filler is what separates it. She tends to lean heavy on the pecans and less on the syrup and egg mixture. So, if you're into that, check out her recipe below.
She was kind enough to share it and would love to know that people are making it and enjoying it. She'll smile as she tries to pass on at least more than one slice to you, just as she does every time she bakes one and shares it with a friend, family, or just someone who looks like they need a little something to fill them up.
1 cup light corn syrup (she swears by Karo)
3 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups chopped pecans
1. Preheat the oven at 325(F). In a small mixing bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and butter. (You won't need a mixer here. A wooden spoon or rubber spatula will work fine. My grandmother prefers a fork.)
2. Layer the pecans over the bottom of a frozen pie shell. Pour the filling over the pecans. (Those sunken pecans will surely rise to the top during baking, don't worry.)
3. Bake for 80 to 90 minutes. The filling should be set with a slightly wiggly center.
4. Pull the pie from the over and allow to completely cool. Once the pie has settled and cooled, eat and share with a friend or two.